The St. Charles College Cardinals are no strangers to the city finals, sporting a resume that features no less than 17 championship banners dating back to 1983.
The Cardinals eliminated the undermanned Bishop Carter Gators in straight games with a 4-2 win Feb. 18 at the Carmichael Arena, putting the game out of reach with a three-goal outburst in the second period.
The Gators opened the scoring midway through the first period as Jason Boudreau thredded a lovely pass to Josh Harkins in the slot, with the BAC captain making no mistake snapping a quick one-timer past St. Charles goalie Nick McGregor.
The defending league champs grabbed the lead with a pair of goals in 49 seconds as Jordan Tall and David Ranger hit the mark just over five minutes into period No. 2.
Ethan Lamarche extended the gap to a pair of goals before the end of the second, with Blake Purcell putting the game out of reach at 5:29 of the third.
Harkins added a late power-play marker to provide a second goal, closing out the scoring with 1:29 to play, but that was as close as the Gators would get.
Goaltender Matthew Rychlo played a strong game for the second consecutive outing, keeping his team in early with a 33-save performance for Bishop Carter while McGregor turned aside 22 shots at the other end of the rink.
The Cardinals will face the upstart Manitoulin Mustangs for the SDSSAA banner, as the Island boys swept aside the Macdonald-Cartier Panthères with victories on back-to-back evenings, upending ESMC 3-1 and 2-0.
The best-of-five affair will begin Feb. 21 with a 6:30 p.m. puck drop at the Gerry McCrory Countryside Sports Complex, with the Cards and Mustangs heading back to Little Current for Game 2 on Feb. 22.
In Division B semifinal action, the Lockerby Vikings grabbed a 1-0 series lead, doubling the Lo-Ellen Park Knights 6-3 in the second game of the high school hockey double-header on Feb. 18.
Connor Griffith scored the first three goals for the Vikes, Mitch Mensour added a pair and James Pardon rounded out the scoring for the sixth-place finishers.
Jade Dydyk, with a pair, and Parker Camirand countered for Lo-Ellen, who will attempt to stave off elimination Feb. 21 at 3 p.m. at Countryside.